Birmingham enacts first “shelter in place” ordinance to combat COVID-19 in Alabama

“Evidence is overwhelming that Jefferson County and beyond has been experiencing rapid community spread of COVID-19.” ~ Sarah Nafziger, co-chair of the UAB Emergency Management Comittee at March 24, 2020 news conference with the City of Birmingham. Screenshot of the news conference on YouTube taken by Pat Byington for Bham Now

Yesterday, the Birmingham City Council approved the first “shelter in place” ordinance to combat the spread of COVID-19 in Alabama. The order goes into effect immediately and runs until April 3.

The new ordinace closely mirrors the recent Jefferson County Department of Health order closing all non-essential retail in the county.

At a news conference earlier in the day, Mayor Randall Woodfin, members of the council and medical professionals expressed concern about the exponential increase in the number of COVID-19 patients over the past several days.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham has reported 45 confirmed cases so far, up from 17 cases one day prior. They have an additional 81 people that are under observation waiting for tests results.

As of March 24th, the state of Alabama has 196 cases of COVID-19, with 86 case in Jefferson County. Twelve days ago there were zero cases in Alabama.

Here is a graph produced by UAB showing the growth:

“Evidence is overwhelming that Jefferson County and beyond has been experiencing rapid community spread of COVID-19.” ~ Dr. Sarah Nafziger, co-chair of the UAB Emergency Management Committee

What is in the shelter in place ordinance?

In the news conference, starting at 1:35 in the video, Mayor Woodfin announced all the elements in the ordinance to combat the virus.

According to a city news release, under the ordinance, residents will be asked to remain at home and only leave for essential purposes.

Those purposes include:

  • Visiting essential businesses like grocery stores, financial institutions and gas stations;
  • Retrieving curbside pickup from restaurants;
  • Attending doctor’s appointments;
  • Exercising outside, including biking, hiking and running – as long as six feet of social distancing is used.

If a business or place of employment is not specifically listed as non-essential by the Jefferson County Health Department, then that organization is cleared to operate by practicing social distancing and health protocols as stated by the Jefferson County Health Department.

In those cases, if businesses decide to continue offering services they should use their best judgment to keep their employees and patrons safe, which may include teleworking.

Read the entire city council shelter in place ordinance  – HERE

Stay tuned

Continue to follow Bham Now – and feel free to fill out and share our forms on local businesses and nonprofits for future FREE guides we are developing

  • Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.